Monthly Archives: April 2019

What More Can Be Said?

There is something very distinctive about this Victorian lady, who was photographed by Dupont’s studio in Brussels in 1893. There is a signature on the reverse, but it is indecipherable. It also says the word “Eindhoven” which I assume was where she was from. 

The Dupont family had been leading photographers in the Belgian capital since the 1840s, and later went on to open studios in a number of other European cities. At the time that this photograph was taken, the Dupont Studio advertised itself as:  “Photographers to the diplomatic corps, to the great bodies of state, the magistrature, the army, the ministries, the public administrations, the world of letters, science and the arts etc” What more can be said?

Negative Archives NA01/1

NEGATIVE ARCHIVES : 35mm B&W Negatives (1970) NA01/1

A strip of five negatives which I took in 1970, at the time Burdock Way was under construction. The project involved substantial demolition work, and also some upgrading to the remaining property around the Gibbet Lane area. The final two shots on the strip were taken at Northowram and feature my mother, Gladys, and my father, Albert.

Lava Flows And Burdock

It is difficult to appreciate the scale of the construction of Burdock Way in Halifax from a modern perspective: new buildings have taken root, trees have filled the empty spaces, the highway has “bedded-in” to the local scenery. I must have taken this photograph in 1970, when construction had just started, and you almost get the feeling of a great river of molten lava flowing down from Beacon Hill had destroying everything in its course. This is not an “old man complaining about change” post, however: I think Burdock Way was a brave and a forward-thinking project, which still has elements of structural beauty about it. Nevertheless, it is interesting to let your eye wander around the image, catching sight of that which was, but is no more.

Ward’s End, Halifax

With some old picture postcards, all you need is a big magnifying glass and a spare morning, and you can get lost in history (and with digital technology you don’t even need the magnifying glass, just a good scan and a decent zoom). This old picture postcard of Ward’s End in Halifax is a case in point. It provides a wonderful comparison between the familiar and the unexpected: buildings and shapes that can still be seen today, next to structures that are nothing but a dismal memory. The building on the right is the old Palace Theatre and Hippodrome, which was opened in 1903 and for a time was the grandest theatre in the town. It made it until it was just able to make an impression on my memory, and then it was cruelly demolished in 1959 to make way for the less than magnificent Southgate House. The final performance at the theatre before demolition was of the musical Brigadoon. Perhaps the theatre will reappear every 100 years for a day. I have a feeling that I might not be around in 2059 – perhaps someone could check on my behalf.

Sticking To A Good Idea

I have a book, somewhere on my bookshelf, which charts the history of great ideas and how they came about. It starts off by imagining how our ancestors might have thought up the idea of the wheel ,and goes on to describe the moment of sublime insight that gave us such inventions as the vacuum cleaner, penicillin, and the one-sheet toilet roll dispenser. I have a new chapter to add to this volume; an idea of grace and beauty which emerged over a meal out at the pub last night.

We were having dinner with two good friends and they brought their granddaughter along with them. The delightful Phoebe was presented with a sticker book to keep her occupied whilst the grown-ups put the problems of the world to right, and decided on the location of their next shopping outing. Paul and I, having abandoned any hope of putting the world to right, and lacking sufficient interest in shopping expeditions, started to wonder why we couldn’t be supplied with sticker books to keep us occupied.

We decided that our interest in creatures of the deep (the subject of Phoebe’s book) was limited to the question of how many of them we could eat with chips, so a different subject matter came to mind. And that is how the concept of the Scottish Malt Whisky Sticker Book came about. A series of maps of the Highlands and Islands along with page after page of small stickers illustrated with a whisky bottle. The stickers are, of course, of the “scratch ‘n sniff” variety, so connoisseurs can firstly identify, then locate, then stick each of the glorious stickers.

Boredom can be a thing of the past. Hour upon hour of harmless entertainment is at hand. Buy the whisky lover in your life a Scottish Malt Whisky Sticker Book today.

Howard & Louise Bantes

This is a nineteenth century photograph (but only just) from the studio of Borman and Johnson of Main Street, Danbury in Connecticut. Before Norman and Johnson took over, the studio belonged to a certain Mr Blackman. On the reverse, the names of the two children are listed as A Howard Bantes, age 12; and Louise Rosina Bantes, age 5. The date “Xmas 1899” is also inscribed.

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